20 thoughts on “Kelleys rowing boat. c1914

  1. I am looking for information relating to my Great Grandfather Charles Miller who I believe was a ferryman in Stockton circa 1901. On the 1901 census Charles was shown as living at 42 Cromwell Street with Harriet (Wife) and his daughters; Annie aged 8, Lillie aged 6, Janet aged 4 and Florence aged 1.

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    • Hello. I have just found out my Great Great Grandad was a ferryman on the Tees. Robert Casey. Lived in Housewives Lane and Swainby Road.

      Information and pictures of possible would such a great thing. ❤️👍

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      • David it was grandad Robert’ brother Francis who worked as ferryman, grandad Casey was a heaters lads on tees shipbuilding, then joined K. O. S. B 1912, he had a very busy time as soldier in great war, searched high and low for photo of him but no luck as yet, he died 1939, his son Robert (bob) my dad went to war (WW11)
        as a merchant navy man, he was torpedoed out in Atlantic 1943, went to Russia on Arctic convoy, I got for dad all his campaign medals in 1993, he like lots of other lads left the sea with no recognition, but I saw dad got his.
        Derek

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  2. Looking for info on a man I think was called George Prentice not quite sure on first name but I have been told that he was the Tees Light Warden and was a Ferryman from Stockton to Thornaby in late 1800s early 1900s.

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  3. My father, James Kelley,b.1919, is the son of Henry Kelley b.1891,brother of Jim Kelley, mentioned above. They were the sons of James Kelley b. abt 1862 and Eleanor Griffiths b.abt 1864. James was the son of Henry Kelley,b.abt 1836 and he was the son of Robert Kelley,b.30 Jan 1797 and Jane Robson of Yarm, b.abt 1802. In the 1841 census Robert is classified as a ferryman. The Kelley spelling is with the “ey” spelling from 1841, although in the 1871 and 1881 censuses it is miss-spelled without the “e”. The Kelley family lived in Trafalgar Street, Thornaby, with the head of the firm living in Ferry House but my father remembers his grandfather living on the Stockton Side. His father Henry, by then living in Norton, used to take my father along to the ferry and go out for an hour”s row. He could remember a salmon jumping into the boat and being taken home for tea.

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    • My grandmother was Mary Eleanor Kelley, (Lovett) daughter of James Kelley, the last ferryman of the family. I would like to find out more information about Kelley’s ferries and the relatives of the family.

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      • Andrew Clare can get in touch with me as I do know some things about Jimmy Kelley and his ferry. You can contact Picture Stockton (pictures@stockton.gov.uk) for my email.

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        • Hi Bob – my grandmother, Mary Eleanor, was the sister of James Kelley born in 1897. Seems he was better known as Jimmy. I would be interested to hear more about him and the ferry he worked on. I would also like to get in touch with any relatives of the Kelley family.

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          • Hi Andrew and Robert. I am the grandson of ‘Jimmy’ although my mum referred to him as Jim and of course Dad. Jim Kelley had two daughters one of whom my mother was Thelma and he had a son. Robert captures some of the stories my mum told me about my grandfather. The family lived in Palmerston Street until the end of the 1960s. I was lucky enough to know him up until I was 20. Best Wishes Steve

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        • Bob, my Dad knew Kelley quite well as he was born and raised in Thornaby (Trafalgar St. Wilson Street area). He told me Kelley would recover drowning victims from the Tees, but take them to either the Stockton side or the Thornaby side because one paid more than the other, I can’t remember which. Was Kelley also the Rat Catcher at Heads. I remember going into the Rat Catchers shed once, down by the river near R and D. a dark and scary place for a 14 yr old. Was this Kelleys work place?

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          • Ian Dalrymple. Jimmy Kelley’s knowledge of the river told him that if a body went into the water in one place the tides and flow of the river would tell him within a few days where it would be. I have known him row up to Yarm to recover a body which was left in a tree after Spring tides. He cut it down and it dropped into his boat where he rowed back to the Thornaby bank to deliver it to the authorities. Mainly he used grappling irons to recover bodies that were lying under water. In his latter years he became a boatman employed by HW’s.

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  4. My great grandmothers sister Pauline Augusta Nielsen Ross married in 1896 to Henry Kelley b1871-1923. Henry was son of Henry Kelley (a Ferryman living in Trafalgar Street in the 1881 census) and Mary Jackson. Henry and Pauline had 3 daughters, Ethel May, Bertha Ella, and Ida Kelley.

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  5. Mike. When ferrying people across the river it wasn”t a case of going straight across. He or any one else who preferred to row would go upstream against the tide keeping to the edge of the water, and then when he decided would start to row across the river allowing the tide to carry them downstream and to the landing on the other side. Is it true that he spent his life on the River he always stated he could not swim?

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  6. To Mike Raw. You and Steve must be proud Grandchildren to have such a Grandfather as Jimmy. He was a character and is a Legend. One instance with Jimmy was when he was to go and work at a Nuclear Power Station in Essex (Bankside Power Station). We both worked at Head Wrightsons. All the gang of workers met at Stockton Railway Station. We boarded the train and there were no seats because of the main Race meeting at York. When we reached York we had a carriage to ourselves. Jimmy said to me, “Bob, your a big lad, can you put my case on the shelf above.” I tried to lift his case but couldn”t budge it. He had his anchor, ropes and enough Newcastle Brown Ale to last the course of the job. I don”t know whether there was any room for clothes in the case. I could go “on and on” with the tales he would regale us with.

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  7. Greetings gentlemen, Steve and the 2 Bob”s. I have been reading with great interest all of the comments regarding our (Steve and I) Grand Father Jim, can I make one small correction, it’s regarding the spelling of the surname, its KELLEY. He was always most insistent on this. His tales of life on the river were memorable, my favourite was the time he received his Xmas gift from Head Wrightsons of a crate of Newcastle Brown, (he always maintained that it was for medicinal purposes only) He placed the crate in Pal “O” Mine, rowed across back to Stockton. Unfortunately he dropped the crate in the river as he was getting out, being high tide he was unable to recover his most precious cargo. So with the skill and dedication born out navigating 2 World Wars and the idiosyncrasies of the River Tees, he went back the following day at 5am, Low Tide, broke thro the ice and recovered the sacred brew. That’s what I call dedication, British by Birth, English by the grace of God

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  8. Hi Steve. I was a good friend of Jimmy Kelly. I used his Ferry and he worked with me at Head Wrightsons after he had finished on the river, although Head Wrightsons did employ him for his knowledge of the River and his abilities with the boat. (namely “Pal O” Mine). If you could get an old copy of “Remember When” dated Saturday, July 5 2003 you will see a write up that I made on Jimmy. He was a true Gentleman and a great character. I did talk to a son in law of his who contacted me by phone. His wife (deceased) was one of Jimmy”s daughters. Could this be your father?

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  9. Jim Kelly was my grandfather, my mum, Thelma often used to help her father steer one of his boats. Jim was a great man who fought and was wounded in the first world war. He is survived by one of his daughters who still lives on the outskirts of Stockton.

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  10. In 1914 my father was an apprentice blacksmith at this time in Ropners Yard Stockton and often talked of “Kellys-Ferry. At times the ferry was so full that only the skill of the rudder man prevented disaster. On a number of occasions the passagers had a walk back to the Thornaby or Stockton landing as the tide flow beat the very careful oarsmen on the loaded craft. The “Kelly” boats were also used by women from the Trafalgar Street area for market shopping (quicker than the tram-car).  It was the proud boast that Kelly a member of the Guild of Ferry Boat Men never lost a passenger in its 50 year history. The boat in the painting is leaving from Thornaby, with Blairs “Sheer-Legs” Ropner Yard ,Stockton for engine placement in the newly launched vessels

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